A month on from the mosque shootings in Christchurch, two Wintec international students, Basira and Baharah, talk about their experience of being Muslim in New Zealand and far away from their home in Afghanistan.
“I was shocked, my body changed and my feelings, I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t believe this would happen in New Zealand; I didn’t believe it of the New Zealand people,” says Basira who is studying English.
The news quickly went global and the students were contacted by worried family members.
“One of our teachers prayed for all of us,” says Basira.
Basira was moved by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who she says clearly felt the tears and pain of the nation.
“When she spoke, her words were very strong and it touched my heart, we are one, and they are us.”
The image of the Prime Minister hugging a Muslim woman wearing a hijab moved Basira who felt it showed real love between people.
“She gave me energy. One day I really want to meet her and to hug her, and say thank you,” says Basira.
The students said people from all walks of life showed their support through the haka, national anthem and hugs, New Zealand was one.
“The support was unexpected, but in a positive way and I couldn’t expect better than that,” says Wintec student Baharah who is also studying English at Wintec.
She says New Zealand has become a different place since the Christchurch attacks but the Government has been quick to introduce new gun legislation.
“Now I really believe in the New Zealand Government, they will do good things for us,” says Baharah.
The students say Wintec posted positive messages of support and held three services which brought the community together.
“We just listened as a Māori representative played his flute sharing his feelings through sound,” says Basira who attended one of the services.
“I wanted to go to someone and just say thank you,” says Basira.
Social media platforms allowed people throughout the world to join New Zealand in their unity.
The students say they noticed support from all around the world came without hesitation.
One student’s father went to Christchurch and visited the hospital to give support to the injured.
Kiwis, Muslim and all ethnicities now stand together.
Our thoughts are with all those affected.